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3D Mammography: A Novel Technique for Breast Cancer Detection

The Ottawa Hospital Breast Health Centre and Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre are now working on a novel mammography technique, 3D mammography that will revolutionize this imaging technique.

 

Scientists at the Ottawa Hospital Breast Health Centre and the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre (OICC) have launched the Ottawa site of the Lead-In to the Tomosynthesis Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial (TMIST).

Tomosynthesis is a digital method for creating 3D images by x-rays from the breast tissue.

This method is approved by the U.S. FDA, but it is not the standard of care yet. While plain mammography produces 2D images, tomosynthesis delivers 3D images. This new technique has several advantages comparing to routine 2D mammography; it does not require that the breast tissue is over-compressed between the glass plates of the mammography device, which causes the procedure to be an uncomfortable experience; it also does not cause breast tissue overlaps, which sometimes results in breast cancer hiding in this overlapped tissue.

TMIST is the first large randomized, multi-centre study which evaluates the effectiveness of the tomosynthesis technology combined with 2D digital mammography in reducing the incidence of advanced breast cancers, comparing conventional 2D mammography alone.

Previous studies have found this novel technique to be effective in detecting more breast cancers and reducing the number of false positive cases (false positive are the cases that are falsely detected as having the disease while they actually do not have the disease). Studies have shown that in more than 90% of cases where breast abnormalities are detected by normal 2D mammography, they are normal findings or a benign lesion. This tremendous amount of false positive ratios poses a lot of stress in women and causes them not to follow routine screening mammographies.

If 3D mammography proves to be effective in this trial, this novel technology will provide more efficacy, reduce patients’ anxiety, and will finally reduce the costs of health care system.

The current Lead-In study aims to recruit 6,300 women in Canada, including 2,000 from Ottawa. Women attending the mammographic screening at the Breast Health Centre may be approached to participate.

Dr. Jean Seely, who is the Head of Breast Imaging at the Breast Health Centre, associate professor at the University of Ottawa, and lead investigator of TMIST Lead-In in Ottawa has stated that “Tomosynthesis is the most advanced and exciting technology for mammography”.

 

Written By: Nima Makhdami, M.D.

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